Thursday, July 28, 2005

Balls of technological steel

First of all, I take my hat off to She, I think she wrote some great posts while I was away. She's a star, don't you know. But, time to disengage from the disengagment, otherwise we'll have all sorts round here...She will have more to say on the topic, of that I'm sure, but let's take a timeout for now.

And now for something completely different...

Modern technology is moving on at breakneck speed and I'm hanging on by my fingertips. I do love some of the gadgets that you can get these days, and am a confirmed aficionado of many a toy or two. For example, I think Skype, and SkypeOut, are fantastic, while my laptop is fast becoming part of the family and often gets preferential treatment over the dog. What always gets me thinking is how fast all this progress has been and in which direction are we going?

Just think about it - where were we just 10 years ago? No emails, no real Internet, hardly any mobile these have not only entered our everyday lives but have become essential components. Just think about the next 10 years and the technological possibilities that our children will probably experience. Will we be as ignorant/technologically disabled in another 20 years, just as my father and grandfather are today?

So, why bother bringing up this topic? Well, you knew there just had to be an Israeli side to this post...

Last week I was surfing the Web when a friend called. She knows I'm fairly knowledgeable about DVDs and wanted my opinion on a certain model. "Hang on" I told her, and quickly googled the model. I gave her my opinion. "OK, and what about this model *gives model name*?". Google to the rescue again. She wanted to know if the price was OK and that she wasn't being ripped off. I zapped for some prices. "Where are you?" I asked. "Oh, I'm in Best Buy and am looking at the DVDs here. I'm with the salesman and I'm not sure which model to take...".

I could hear the salesman in the background and he was fast getting pissed. Me, I was split: OK, it's great for the consumer that we can utilize all this technology and thoroughly check prices and get the best deal possible - on the other hand, this is just a little bit too hutzpah for me. I wouldn't have the balls to call up a friend while being served by someone and then check prices real-time. OK, I would do it before coming out to buy and there's nothing wrong with that of course, but to walk into a shop and quite blatantly compare prices with their rivals is another thing. An Israeli thing.

I was happy to help her out though. Fuck it, been here too long...

Monday, July 25, 2005

I have seen the enemy, part 2

I had not intended to post on this subject again so soon, but given that my previous entry has clearly irked some people whose writing I greatly respect and enjoy, I felt it necessary to provide a response, part two, if you will.

As you've probably already ascertained, I am generally against the settlements, and believe, for the most part, that they are an obstacle to any future permanent agreements with the Palestinians. I do, however, believe that it is possible to reach a compromise under certain circumstances that would allow Israel to retain control over areas like Maaleh Adumim, Gush Etzion, Ariel, etc., in exchange for land elsewhere that could go to the Palestinians (not unlike the agreements we have with Jordan). As I've mentioned in a previous entry, I know that it must be difficult for people to be forced to leave their homes and livelihoods, everything they have worked to build for so many years. If I were in that position, I would like to think that I would do as asked, with great sorrow, perhaps, but believing that I was doing it for the greater good, that such a request would not be made of me if it were not so incredibly important for the future of the state that I live in and love (warts and all). I would like to think that you would not see me arguing with or screaming at soldiers, poor kids who have the misfortune of being the wrong age at the wrong time. You would not see me trying to make life difficult for my fellow Israelis by blocking roads as they try to get home to their children after a long day at work, and you would certainly not see me compare the disengagement to the Holocaust.

My problems are not with each and every individual settler, and indeed, I have had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of a number of people in various settlements. They are among the finest people I know, and I enjoy their company immensely. And of course, I realize that not everyone waving an orange ribbon is running out to attack police officers. In fact, I would like to think that the majority are not. On the flip side, however, I know I am not alone in being horrified at what I've seen on television - the disgusting treatment of our police officers and soldiers being verbally - and sometimes even physically - attack by anti-disengagement supporters of all ages. My husband (who is nowhere near me politically) and I were aghast to watch a young girl who could not have been older than 12 letting go with a non-stop verbal tirade against a soldier. We didn't know whether to laugh or cry at such a spectacle.

People talk about the violence that the police are using against these people. What about the violence that these people are perpetrating against the police and the soldiers? How on earth can parents allow their children to attend and often bring their children to events where there is even the slightest chance for violence? What are parents teaching their children if the children think it's okay to abuse those who are serving in our country's military? Who are their role models? Suddenly, instead of our sons and daughters defending Israel against her enemies, they are being forced to fend off women and children. Our police force, struggling to keep our country safe even at the best of times, are being pushed to the brink of despair and exhaustion by these protestors, unable to the jobs that they were hired to do.

And these are just the protests that we see. The countless stories that I've heard about people whose cars have been vandalized simply for having a blue ribbon tied around the antenna, blue ribbons being removed from house gates, etc. Given that Israel is a democracy, it seems that an awful lot of people are trying to stifle the rights of the pro-disengagement folks.

I can respect the right of the anti-disengagement community to protest what is happening. Truly, I can. What I cannot respect or accept are the tactics being used by some in battle. Instead of directing their anger at the government, many members of this community are fighting dirty, unnecessarily tying up the police force and the military and wreaking havoc on the daily lives of Israeli citizens who might otherwise have supported them. To those of you who support and participate in these tactics, you are battling the wrong foes. You are your own worst enemy (and some would say this about me, I'm quite sure), and no good can possibly come of your actions. To those of you who are simply against the disengagement, yet you have chosen to take the high road this Summer, you have my respect for your positions, and my sympathy for your losses.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I have seen the enemy, and it is orange

It must be the most successful marketing campaign in history. The color orange is so strongly identified with the settler/anti-disengagement movement that I automatically become suspicious of anyone and anything with the color orange. It's even reached the point where it has simply become a distasteful color. Yes, the cute little stuffed penguin on my desk has suddenly become an enemy agent, and parts of the company logo will have to go. I feel funny getting in taxis that have an orange ribbon (and given that I take a shuttle taxi between the train station and my office twice a day, the orange ribbon potential is always there), as if I'm actually contributing money directly to the anti-disengagement movement. Of course, maybe they change their ribbons based on the neighborhood that they happen to be driving through, as one Jerusalem-based taxi driver told Lisa from On the Face. In the area where my office is, though, I'm inclined to doubt it. These guys are "ktumim" ("oranges") through and through.

"Ktumim". Whenever I say it, I say it with disdain, as if I was swearing. I wish I could say that I can't help it, but that would be lying. Obviously, I do it on purpose. Perhaps if I wasn't so disgusted by their actions, I wouldn't feel the need to refer to them in this way, but their protest methods are so utterly abhorrent that all I feel is anger. Placing fake bombs in bus stations sickening, and to place one in the Netanya bus station just two days after last week's terror attack in the city is a twisted act of cruelty perpetrated against the people in Netanya. I think of these religious (am NOT referring to all religious people here - am specifically referring to those I describe in the following text, having seen it on the news - I have many religious friends and colleagues who are wonderful people and would never do such things, especially not in the name of Judaism) people who would never take God's name in vain, yet these same people have no qualms about taking events of the Holocaust and equating these atrocities with what is happening here, like writing their identity numbers on their arms in protest, or pinning Stars of David to their clothes.

With the latest goings on at Kfar Maimon, I can't help but be reminded of a woman I know who lives there. A fervent right-winger (I can only assume that her car is bedecked in orange, and that she's probably gone out and purchased a new wardrobe consisting solely of orange articles of clothing) who had no problem to share her political beliefs (and any other beliefs she may have had) with anyone who would listen (not a terribly endearing quality in the workplace), I imagine her to be serving up coffee and cake to her "guests", reveling in the fact that she is doing her part for the cause (perhaps she's even helping them to abuse the soldiers and police in the vicinity). This charming individual once tried to explain the actions of the would-be Jewish terrorists who tried to blow up an Arab girls' school in Jerusalem some years ago as an act of misguided youth (she knows one of the families, and he couldn't possibly be a terrorist!), and my colleagues and I are counting our blessings that she is no longer working with us, so that we won't have to go through the disengagement with "ha'ktuma ha'zot".

Of course, I realize that not everyone sporting orange these days supports the perpetrators of these acts, and that they are simply against the disengagement. However, words of condemnation are few and far between, and if these people do not take a vocal stand against the psychos, one can only assume that they support them. And, with these frightening hooligans setting the course of events, it should prove to be a most interesting Summer, to say the least, pitting Jew against Jew, brother against brother. Let the feelings of impending dread begin...

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Slogging away in hi-tech hell

I have been swamped, positively swamped these past few weeks. Being the only one in my office who does what I do can have its perks (such as surviving three rounds of firings in the years that I've been here), but there are also drawbacks (such as being forced to work at a frantic pace in order to meet impossible deadlines made even worse by unexpected projects thrown my way, as has been the case lately). My brain has been sucked dry due to what seems to be the misguided belief that I'm some kind of magician and can do an infinite number of projects in a limited time period. As such, I've been unable to focus on blogging, which I'd much rather be doing than all of these asinine, thankless projects put together. "He" has also been otherwise occupied, though with much happier things (which he may or may not choose to share with you), which is why between the two of us, we haven't been able to get a decent (or any, for that matter) entry posted lately.

Of course, it doesn't help that the person who owns my ass in the office (due to the last unfortunate wave of firings, forcing my beloved former boss to seek out new - and hopefully greener - pastures) seemingly has no grasp of the knowledge-based aspects of my job, and thus chooses to focus on trivial issues where input is normally not required, nor is it especially welcome, given that it often clashes with the way I believe that something should be done. Never an easy situation to be in, and due to this individual's reputation as a serious ballbuster, I usually opt not to argue, having reached the point where I simply don't care anymore. I do, however, take solace in the fact that said boss has the same effect on everyone (even those not under direct command), and thus I'm not the only target.

In an ideal world, I would be a "real" writer, being paid to stir up people's emotions. Instead, I find myself stuck in "Dilbert" World, where the brilliantly created works of Scott Adams often so closely reflect the daily goings on around here that I often wonder which cube Mr Adams sits in. Aah, yes, the joys of hi-tech, where in exchange for being paid a decent salary (though I know for a fact that I could probably do better elsewhere), you are expected to give up all extracurricular thoughts and activities, and dedicate your life to your masters, erm, I mean, bosses.

I am burned out, tired. What kind of world are we living in if freakish amounts of overtime receive high praise, while leaving on time is frowned upon? Is it so incredible to want to get home at a reasonable hour, to want to spend time with one's family? I look around at my colleagues and friends, many of whom have small children, and wonder how many of them actually see their children awake during the week. I come into the office in the morning and check my emails, noticing that some were sent during the wee hours of the morning - 2am, 3am, etc. - times when normal people would be asleep, or at least in pursuit of something far more pleasurable than writing error messages. What happened to the good old days, when people worked from 8am to 4pm, leaving them with less take-home pay, but certainly more quality time for other pursuits? Okay, I suppose this still holds true in the public sector, thanks to Amir Peretz and his cronies in the Histadrut, but for most of us working stiffs, the idea of getting home during daylight hours is nothing but a dream.

Admittedly, I am not a big fan of the French, but I must admit, their approach to work (35 hour work week, isn't it?) suits me to a T. Parts of Scandinavia as well, where they work less hours during the Summer (and even regular full-time hours are quite reasonable), and receive six weeks of vacation time per year (I receive just over half of that, after nearly five years in the company), not too mention all sorts of interesting little holidays sprinkled about the calendar. Say what you will about the Europeans, but it seems, at least with respect to work ethics, that they've got their priorities straight. Now if only they would do something about their cowardly pansy attitude regarding the militant Muslims in their midst, we'd be all set.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Joke of the moment

בהתחלה תליתי על המכונית סרט כתום, כי אני נגד ההתנתקות. אחר כך תליתי סרט ירוק, כי חסמו אותי באיילון. אחר כך תליתי סרט כחול-לבן, כיאני בכל זאת ציוני, ושמתי גם סרט צהוב, בעד המלחמה נגד הסרטןעכשיו כולם בטוחים שאני הומו

At first I tied an orange ribbon to my car, because I'm opposed to the pullout from Gaza. After that I tied a green ribbon, because they blocked me in (not 100% about the translation) on the Ayalon (freeway). After that I tied a blue and white ribbon because, after all, I'm a Zionist. I also put a yellow ribbon, in support of the fight against cancer. Now everyone's sure I'm gay.

I had to think about it for a second, but I got there in the end. Made me laugh.